With Remote Work Here To Stay Lenders Focus On Options For Overseeing Employees

By KIMBERLEY HAAS

It is estimated that more than one in five Americans will work remotely by 2025 and lenders are finding ways to remain compliant as loan officers choose that lifestyle.

According to a recent USA Today report, workers in all professions are taking advantage of remote options. Just over one-third of workers in the U.S. who can work remotely do so full-time, and 41% of people who can be on a hybrid schedule are.

At the same time, 58% of white-collar workers prefer to work remotely at least three days a week and only 16% of white-collar workers would consider a job that doesn’t offer the option of working remotely at least one day a week.

Banks, mortgage lenders, and credit unions have to follow strict agency guidelines, as well as state and federal laws, so leaders at these institutions are looking for software solutions that help them remain compliant while providing flexibility to employees who don’t intend to be in the office five days a week.

Rob Nunziata is the co-founder and CEO of ActiveComply in Orlando, Florida. He said it is unrealistic for a lender, especially a large lender, to send a compliance officer to the homes of every remote worker so they have seen an uptick in outreach from clients and potential clients who want to verify employees are following the rules.

“Remote work has not gone away, which I don’t think is surprising because once you start working from home I think it becomes hard to go back to the office five days a week. And I think employers are starting to realize that so even though employers have physical office space I think what we’re seeing is most employers that we deal with are allowing remote work either full-time or partial remote work,” Nunziata said.

VirtualVerify by ActiveComply works by confirming IP addresses and using geolocation tracking. Employees can take photos and video of what their employers need to check, like locked office doors and paper shredders.

The software can also potentially provide lenders with an additional layer of security. Although it was a case involving another industry, recent news of the way hackers attacked UnitedHealth Group’s Change Healthcare unit caught Nunziata’s attention and he said there are lessons for lenders to learn from the cyberattack.

Nunziata said VirtualVerify may not have stopped the attack, but it could have helped.

“The way that UnitedHealth was hacked is the hackers came in through a portal or an application that was set up for remote users. So they stole somebody’s credentials and they logged in as a remote user of UnitedHealth,” Nunziata said. “If they had our software, they would know that person logging in is not in the location we have that employee verified at.”

ActiveComply also offers software to help lenders monitor the web presence of employees. SocialShield is a social media monitoring software and WebCompass helps ensure personal websites linked back to the company follow guidelines.

Nunziata said in an era where lenders are not spending as much money on traditional advertising, loan officers are using social media and websites to drum up business. But lenders can still be held responsible if advertising violations or disclosure issues are found.

“Anything that that loan officer puts out on social media, and if they mention mortgage, if they’re representing themselves as an employee of your company, the loan officer is responsible for it, but more importantly, the lender is responsible, too,” Nunziata said.

“Loan officers are supposed to tell compliance about any websites they have but that doesn’t always happen, so if there is anything out there, we can find it.”

Leaders at the Mortgage Bankers Association continue to monitor the progress of remote work policies for loan officers throughout the country. They have released proposed model language to maintain consumer and data protection standards while permitting flexibility in statutes and rules.

That language has been adopted by 30 states and the District of Columbia, according to the MBA’s website.

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